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Interacting with Art

Erin Rogers
February 22, 2018

UMD student inspires children to appreciate the Tweed Museum.

Erin Rogers takes a little boy by the hand. She crouches down and asks him, “Why do you think this artist is using so many colors in his painting?” The group of children standing around the artwork come in closer. Erin looks up and asks the question to the group. One little boy in the back jumps up, waves his hand, and responds loudly, “Batman.”

As the group bursts out in laughter, Erin smiles. She knows the boy is responding to the art. “Although it was silly, the fact that he had an answer was moving,” Erin says. “Seeing kids interact with art is my favorite part of being a docent.”  

Erin is a docent, a tour guide, for UMD’s Tweed Museum of Art. She is taking a group of pre-school children on a tour of Pop Evolution, a pop art exhibition featuring Andy Warhol.

As an integrated elementary and special education major, Erin immerses herself in the world of children. After she took the Spring 2017 Art for Elementary Students class, it seemed natural for her to offer to help Professor Alison Aune. In fall 2017, she helped with art education outreach and her experience working with children and art went so well Erin volunteered to give tours to young students when long-time Tweed docent Bill Shipley retired.

“Bill’s strong passion and knowledge of the art world inspired me,” Erin says. “Bill always answered my questions with an interesting story. I realized that I want to do that too.”

During her training, Erin learned about Tweed’s huge collection of work, over 10,000 objects. Each time a new art exhibit went up, Erin had to learn something about every piece. Becoming a docent has taught Erin a lot. “I’m a reserved person, but I learned how to speak in front of a crowd and ways to interact that make the tour more enjoyable.”

She walks by the Tweed every day on her way to class, and that is a plus. “Having the opportunity to give tours in an art museum that is so comfortable is a perfect opportunity for me.”

In spring 2018, she continues to work on art education outreach and she created a Native American Art activity guide that is now being used by school children. Erin will soon work alongside secondary art education students and community members to serve in the spring Tweed docent program.

Erin fits in her docent duties between classes and two of her passions, astronomy and gaming. “I’m the treasurer of the Astronomy Club and a member of the University Gaming Society,” she says. Her favorite games are Once Upon a Time and The Red Dragon Inn.

After graduation Erin hopes to join the Peace Corps or perhaps dive right into teaching. Until then, you can often find her leading groups of children through the Tweed Museum of Art.

About the Art Education B.F.A in the School of Fine Arts

About the Tweed docent program:

UMD students from from all class years and academic concentrations and all community members are invited to join lead tours, facilitate discussions and design museum activities for children and youth. For more information contact program director, Professor Alison Aune at